Bavarian tunnels

Here’s a fun article, found via BLDGBLOG (which I never read as regularly as I should). It’s about “twisty little passages,” underground warrens in Bavaria known as Erdstalls. More evocative monikers include goblin hole (Schrazelloch) and mandrake cave (Alraunenhöhle).

It’s also about the mysteries of the built environment. (Their creation is undocumented but attributed to elves, tattooed Scots-Irish monks, and local villagers. The Erdstalls were closed in the thirteenth century and explored in the nineteenth, their chaotic discovery owing much to construction crews and hapless cows.) It’s about conflicting theories. (Temples for cultists or hideouts for terrorized settlers?) It’s about romantic speculation and prosaic data analysis. (How effectively can one argue that a structure is Neolithic if the radiocarbon results point to the Middle Ages?) It’s about how written documentation can be a shout or a whimper, depending upon scarcity. (Explorer/archivist Weichenberger bolsters his hideout theory: “An old [written] account of a death tells the story of a woman who was so afraid of being discovered that she suffocated her screaming baby in an Erdstall.”) It’s about the legal impact of the builders’ material legacy. (Manaugh of BLDGBLOG wonders about the tax implications of Erdstalls discovered on private property.)

But mostly it’s about ancient secret passageways.